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Three main reasons to use common sense when feeding your pets

We all wish for our furry family members to reach their full developmental potential  and to live in vibrant good health. Unfortunately common practice is not always based on common sense, instead large majority of widely accepted habits in our society is based primarily on economic interest and blatant disregard for some basic facts of nature.  Here are three  important reasons why you should never feed your pets highly processed commercial foods:

 1. Sweet Elephant in the Room

Most commercial pet foods are based on grains or starchy tubers. This means such foods will contain very high carbohydrate content.  Being strict carnivores cats are not equipped to handle more then 2% of carbohydrates in their food, dogs are considered facultative carnivores ( which means they will occasionally forage for some fruits and vegetables, usually when the hunt fails) and they can tolerate more carbohydrates then cats in their diet but this is still very far from 46 - 74% which is the usual percentage of carbohydrates in commercial pet foods depending on the brand.
Therefore it is no surprise that obesity and diabetes are becoming more rampant in pets as they are straying farther and farther away from their ancestral diets. 2012 US National Pet Obesity Survey results read as follows:

    52.5% of US Dogs Overweight or Obese or approximately 36.7 million

    58.3% of US Cats Overweight or Obese or approximately 43.2 million

"Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets.” states APOP’s founder and lead veterinarian for the survey Dr. Ernie Ward. “We continue to see an escalation in the number of overweight cats and an explosion in the number of type 2 diabetes cases.”

New York-based veterinary endocrinologist and APOP board member Dr. Mark Peterson agrees. “The soaring rate of feline and canine obesity is taking a terrible toll on our animals’ health. There is a vast population of overweight cats and dogs facing an epidemic of diabetes. The best preventive measure a pet owner can make is to keep their dog or cat at a healthy weight. Diabetes is far easier to prevent than treat, especially when twice daily insulin injections are needed.”

Funnily enough nobody mentions the culprit, everyone ignores huge proverbial elephant that sits in our rooms. This is no surprise if we know that pet food industry generates revenues in billions of dollars or euros. Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of Association for Pet Obesity Prevention:

This is a war veterinarians, pet owners and parents must win. Obesity is the number one preventable medical condition seen in veterinary hospitals today and is the fastest growing health threat of our nation’s children. Our goal is to help pets and people live longer, healthier, and pain-free lives by maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, and physical activity. The most important decision a pet owner makes each day is what they choose to feed their pet. Choose wisely. Your pet’s life depends on it!    

 

So how can we win this war? The answer is simple, we just need to feed our pets according to the common sense, natural facts and their biological  make-up.

 

2. Anti-Nutrients and Other Dangerous Substances

Most pet foods use grains ( wheat, barley, rye, corn) as bulking agent  and source of carbohydrates.  All of these (with the exception of corn) contain certain type of proteins commonly known as gliadins of which gluten is most widely known today, due to the fact that it can wreck havoc on human health. Well it is no different in pets, once ingested gluten is recognised as allergen and  body tries to destroy it by mobilising its immune forces. Constantly feeding foods that contain gluten means constant inflammation, dysfunctional immune system which leads to secondary infection with ubiquitous microorganisms that would otherwise be harmless in animals with fully functional immune system. The best example of this are yeasts, due to the diet excess of carbohydrates  yeasts  found on the skin and mucous membranes increase in numbers   while tired  immune system which is over burdened fighting with gluten all the time cannot keep the lid on this situation. This is why skin conditions are most prevalent pet heath problem today in addition to obesity and diabetes. Even the grains that do not contain gluten, such as corn or rice contain other anti-nutrients known as lectins. These have similar effect to gluten.

It is in fact vicious circle. The research suggests that foods like grains including corn and soy, as well as dairy products can damage the villi of the small intestine and cause them to atrophy. These finger-like projections increase the surface area of the duodenum, jejunum and ileum, and are responsible for absorbing our B complex, along with our calcium, iron, iodine, C, and trace minerals (such as boron, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, and many others). In other words your dog or cat  will be unable to absorb adequate quantities of nutrients from their food as long as the small intestine is in this state. And it will be in this state as long as you feed these foods. it may take up to 6 months for intestinal villi to full regenerate after stopping the exposure to problematic food.

The Consumer Council of Hong Kong recently published the results of testing performed on nearly 40 popular pet foods. It turns out most of them contained aflatoxins. These are biological toxins produced by certain moulds of the genus Aspergillus commonly found in corn, wheat, and rice, as well as nuts and legumes. The problem with aflatoxin is - it is a cancerogenic substance. Is it then merely a coincidence that cancer is on the rise in pets? In fact we are seeing increasing numbers of different types of cancer in very young animals.

Last but not least large majority of grains found in pet food, especially corn and soy come from genetically modified crops. Who on earth would want to feed these Frankenfoods to their pets?!

 

3. Chronic Subclinical Dehydration

Anatomically and physiologically speaking, our pets are not different from their ancestors who evolved to get most of the water from their food.  Cats and and many dog breeds that evolved in arid areas are not hardwired to drink large quantities of water, even in scorching heat.  In nature, wild cats and dogs feed on whole pray which has moisture or water content of almost 70%, now if you replace  this with dry kibbles you can imagine what effect will this have on the health of these animals. Therfore,  it is no surprise that the main cause of  death or euthanasia in cats and dogs older than 8 years, today is kidney failure. Constant dehydration in addition to anti-nutrients in food and inadequate mineral content is the main cause of this disease.  Once the symptoms start showing it is usually too late as 3/4 of functional kidney mass are gone and only solution would be a kidney transplant which in veterinary medicine is not an option.

In conclusion, if you have been feeding your pets commercial pet foods and you think they are doing fine think twice! cats and dogs are resilient animals and they will survive on anything, but only for limited periods of time.  By the age of 5 or 6 their bodies will start showing first signs of chronic malnutrition, inflammation and degeneration.

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